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1.  The Design of In Vitro Liver Sinusoid Mimics Using Chitosan–Hyaluronic Acid Polyelectrolyte Multilayers 
Tissue Engineering. Part A  2010;16(9):2731-2741.
Interactions between hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are essential for the development and maintenance of hepatic phenotypic functions. We report the assembly of three-dimensional liver sinusoidal mimics comprised of primary rat hepatocytes, LSECs, and an intermediate chitosan–hyaluronic acid polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM). The height of the PEMs ranged from 30 to 55 nm and exhibited a shear modulus of ∼100 kPa. Hepatocyte–PEM cellular constructs exhibited stable urea and albumin production over a 7-day period, and these values were either higher or similar to cells cultured in a collagen sandwich. This is of significance because the thickness of a collagen gel is ∼1000-fold higher than the height of the chitosan–hyaluronic acid PEM. In the hepatocyte–PEM–LSEC liver-mimetic cellular constructs, LSEC phenotype was maintained, and these cultures exhibited stable urea and albumin production. CYP1A1/2 activity measured over a 7-day period was significantly higher in the hepatocyte–PEM–LSEC constructs than in collagen sandwich cultures. A 16-fold increase in CYP1A1/2 activity was observed for hepatocyte–PEM–10,000 LSEC samples, thereby suggesting that interactions between hepatocytes and LSECs are critical in enhancing the detoxification capability in hepatic cultures in vitro.
PMCID: PMC2928042  PMID: 20491586
2.  Ethanol Augments RANTES/CCL5 Expression in Rat Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells and Human Endothelial Cells via Activation of NF-κB, HIF-1α, and AP-11 
Chronic alcohol consumption leads to liver inflammation and cirrhosis. Alcoholic liver disease patients have increased levels of hepatic RANTES/CCL5. However, less is known about the molecular mechanisms for ethanol-induced RANTES up-regulation. In this study, we observed that liver sinusoidal endothelial cells derived from ethanol-fed rats (E-rLSECs) showed severalfold increases in RANTES and hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) mRNAs compared with control rLSECs (C-rLSECs). Similar effects were seen in acute ethanol treatment of isolated rLSECs and human dermal microvascular endothelial cells. Ethanol-induced RANTES mRNA expression required ethanol metabolism, p38 MAPK, HIF-1α, and JNK-2, but not JNK-1. EMSA experiments showed increased HIF-1α binding to wild-type hypoxia response elements (HREs; −31 to −9 bp) within the RANTES promoter in response to ethanol. RANTES promoter analysis showed that cis elements proximal to the transcription start site, HRE-1 (nt −22 to −19), HRE-2 (nt −32 to −29), and AP-1 (nt −250 to −244) were required for ethanol-mediated RANTES expression. These results were corroborated by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showing augmented HIF-1α binding to HRE-1. Additionally, promoter analysis revealed c-Jun, c-Jun/c-Fos, and JunD, but not JunB, bound to the AP-1 site of the RANTES promoter. Ethanol-mediated activation of NF-κB led to HIF-1α activation and concomitant RANTES expression. Plasma of ethanol-fed c-Junflox/flox-Mx-1-Cre mice showed attenuated levels of RANTES compared with ethanol-fed control mice, supporting the role of c-Jun in ethanol-induced RANTES expression. Our studies showed that ethanol-mediated RANTES/CCL5 expression occurs via HIF-1α activation independently of hypoxia. The identification of HIF-1α and AP-1 in ethanol-induced RANTES expression provides new strategies to ameliorate ethanol-induced inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3633447  PMID: 19828633
3.  Production of Factor VIII by Human Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells Transplanted in Immunodeficient uPA Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77255.
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) form a semi-permeable barrier between parenchymal hepatocytes and the blood. LSECs participate in liver metabolism, clearance of pathological agents, immunological responses, architectural maintenance of the liver and synthesis of growth factors and cytokines. LSECs also play an important role in coagulation through the synthesis of Factor VIII (FVIII). Herein, we phenotypically define human LSECs isolated from fetal liver using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy. Isolated LSECs were cultured and shown to express endothelial markers and markers specific for the LSEC lineage. LSECs were also shown to engraft the liver when human fetal liver cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice with liver specific expression of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) transgene (uPA-NOG mice). Engrafted cells expressed human Factor VIII at levels approaching those found in human plasma. We also demonstrate engraftment of adult LSECs, as well as hepatocytes, transplanted into uPA-NOG mice. We propose that overexpression of uPA provides beneficial conditions for LSEC engraftment due to elevated expression of the angiogenic cytokine, vascular endothelial growth factor. This work provides a detailed characterization of human midgestation LSECs, thereby providing the means for their purification and culture based on their expression of CD14 and CD32 as well as a lack of CD45 expression. The uPA-NOG mouse is shown to be a permissive host for human LSECs and adult hepatocytes, but not fetal hepatoblasts. Thus, these mice provide a useful model system to study these cell types in vivo. Demonstration of human FVIII production by transplanted LSECs encourages further pursuit of LSEC transplantation as a cellular therapy for the treatment of hemophilia A.
PMCID: PMC3805584  PMID: 24167566
4.  In Hepatic Fibrosis, Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells Acquire Enhanced Immunogenicity 
The normal liver is characterized by immunologic tolerance. Primary mediators of hepatic immune tolerance are liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). LSECs block adaptive immunogenic responses to Ag and induce the generation of T regulatory cells. Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by both intense intrahepatic inflammation and altered hepatic immunity. We postulated that, in liver fibrosis, a reversal of LSEC function from tolerogenic to proinflammatory and immunogenic may contribute to both the heightened inflammatory milieu and altered intrahepatic immunity. We found that, after fibrotic liver injury from hepatotoxins, LSECs become highly proinflammatory and secrete an array of cytokines and chemokines. In addition, LSECs gain enhanced capacity to capture Ag and induce T cell proliferation. Similarly, unlike LSECs in normal livers, in fibrosis, LSECs do not veto dendritic cell priming of T cells. Furthermore, whereas in normal livers, LSECs are active in the generation of T regulatory cells, in hepatic fibrosis LSECs induce an immunogenic T cell phenotype capable of enhancing endogenous CTLs and generating potent de novo CTL responses. Moreover, depletion of LSECs from fibrotic liver cultures mitigates the proinflammatory milieu characteristic of hepatic fibrosis. Our findings offer a critical understanding of the role of LSECs in modulating intrahepatic immunity and inflammation in fibro-inflammatory liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3119346  PMID: 20639479
5.  Microenvironmental Regulation of the Sinusoidal Endothelial Cell Phenotype In Vitro 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2009;50(3):920-928.
Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells (LSEC) differ, both structurally and functionally, from endothelial cells (EC) lining blood vessels of other tissues. For example, in contrast to other EC, LSEC posses fenestrations, have low detectable levels of PECAM-1 expression, and in rat tissue, they distinctively express a cell surface marker recognized by the SE-1 antibody. These unique phenotypic characteristics seen in hepatic tissue are lost over time upon culture in vitro; therefore, this study sought to systematically examine the effects of microenvironmental stimuli, namely, extracellular matrix (ECM) and neighboring cells, on the LSEC phenotype in vitro. In probing the role of the underlying extracellular matrix, we identified collagen I and collagen III as well as mixtures of collagen I/collagen IV/fibronectin as having a positive effect on LSEC survival. Furthermore, using a stable hepatocellular model (hepatocyte-fibroblast) we were able to prolong the expression of both SE-1 and phenotypic functions of LSEC such as Factor VIII activity in co-cultured LSECs through the production of short-range paracrine signals. In the course of these experiments, we identified the antigen recognized by SE-1 as CD32b. Collectively, this study has identified several microenvironmental regulators of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells that prolong their phenotypic functions for up to 2 weeks in culture, enabling the development of better in vitro models of liver physiology and disease.
PMCID: PMC2890242  PMID: 19585615
endothelial phenotype; SE-1; CD32b; extracellular matrix; hepatocytes
6.  Scavenger properties of cultivated pig liver endothelial cells 
The liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) and Kupffer cells constitute the most powerful scavenger system in the body. Various waste macromolecules, continuously released from tissues in large quantities as a consequence of normal catabolic processes are cleared by the LSEC. In spite of the fact that pig livers are used in a wide range of experimental settings, the scavenger properties of pig LSEC has not been investigated until now. Therefore, we studied the endocytosis and intracellular transport of ligands for the five categories of endocytic receptors in LSEC.
Endocytosis of five 125I-labelled molecules: collagen α-chains, FITC-biotin-hyaluronan, mannan, formaldehyde-treated serum albumin (FSA), and aggregated gamma globulin (AGG) was substantial in cultured LSEC. The endocytosis was mediated via the collagen-, hyaluronan-, mannose-, scavenger-, or IgG Fc-receptors, respectively, as judged by the ability of unlabelled ligands to compete with labelled ligands for uptake. Intracellular transport was studied employing a morphological pulse-chase technique. Ninety minutes following administration of red TRITC-FSA via the jugular vein of pigs to tag LSEC lysosomes, cultures of the cells were established, and pulsed with green FITC-labelled collagen, -mannan, and -FSA. By 10 min, the FITC-ligands was located in small vesicles scattered throughout the cytoplasm, with no co-localization with the red lysosomes. By 2 h, the FITC-ligands co-localized with red lysosomes. When LSEC were pulsed with FITC-AGG and TRITC-FSA together, co-localization of the two ligands was observed following a 10 min chase. By 2 h, only partial co-localization was observed; TRITC-FSA was transported to lysosomes, whereas FITC-AGG only slowly left the endosomes. Enzyme assays showed that LSEC and Kupffer cells contained equal specific activities of hexosaminidase, aryl sulphates, acid phosphatase and acid lipase, whereas the specific activities of α-mannosidase, and glucuronidase were higher in LSEC. All enzymes measured showed considerably higher specific activities in LSEC compared to parenchymal cells.
Pig LSEC express the five following categories of high capacity endocytic receptors: scavenger-, mannose-, hyaluronan-, collagen-, and IgG Fc-receptors. In the liver, soluble ligands for these five receptors are endocytosed exclusively by LSEC. Furthermore, LSEC contains high specific activity of lysosomal enzymes needed for degradation of endocytosed material. Our observations suggest that pig LSEC have the same clearance activity as earlier described in rat LSEC.
PMCID: PMC514717  PMID: 15306034
7.  Liver sinusoidal endothelial cell progenitor cells promote liver regeneration in rats 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(4):1567-1573.
The ability of the liver to regenerate is crucial to protect liver function after injury and during chronic disease. Increases in hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are thought to drive liver regeneration. However, in contrast to endothelial progenitor cells, mature LSECs express little HGF. Therefore, we sought to establish in rats whether liver injury causes BM LSEC progenitor cells to engraft in the liver and provide increased levels of HGF and to examine the relative contribution of resident and BM LSEC progenitors. LSEC label-retaining cells and progenitors were identified in liver and LSEC progenitors in BM. BM LSEC progenitors did not contribute to normal LSEC turnover in the liver. However, after partial hepatectomy, BM LSEC progenitor proliferation and mobilization to the circulation doubled. In the liver, one-quarter of the LSECs were BM derived, and BM LSEC progenitors differentiated into fenestrated LSECs. When irradiated rats underwent partial hepatectomy, liver regeneration was compromised, but infusion of LSEC progenitors rescued the defect. Further analysis revealed that BM LSEC progenitors expressed substantially more HGF and were more proliferative than resident LSEC progenitors after partial hepatectomy. Resident LSEC progenitors within their niche may play a smaller role in recovery from partial hepatectomy than BM LSEC progenitors, but, when infused after injury, these progenitors engrafted and expanded markedly over a 2-month period. In conclusion, LSEC progenitor cells are present in liver and BM, and recruitment of BM LSEC progenitors is necessary for normal liver regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3314456  PMID: 22406533
8.  Formation of Fenestrae in Murine Liver Sinusoids Depends on Plasmalemma Vesicle-Associated Protein and Is Required for Lipoprotein Passage 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115005.
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) are characterized by the presence of fenestrations that are not bridged by a diaphragm. The molecular mechanisms that control the formation of the fenestrations are largely unclear. Here we report that mice, which are deficient in plasmalemma vesicle-associated protein (PLVAP), develop a distinct phenotype that is caused by the lack of sinusoidal fenestrations. Fenestrations with a diaphragm were not observed in mouse LSEC at three weeks of age, but were present during embryonic life starting from embryonic day 12.5. PLVAP was expressed in LSEC of wild-type mice, but not in that of Plvap-deficient littermates. Plvap-/- LSEC showed a pronounced and highly significant reduction in the number of fenestrations, a finding, which was seen both by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. The lack of fenestrations was associated with an impaired passage of macromolecules such as FITC-dextran and quantum dot nanoparticles from the sinusoidal lumen into Disse's space. Plvap-deficient mice suffered from a pronounced hyperlipoproteinemia as evidenced by milky plasma and the presence of lipid granules that occluded kidney and liver capillaries. By NMR spectroscopy of plasma, the nature of hyperlipoproteinemia was identified as massive accumulation of chylomicron remnants. Plasma levels of low density lipoproteins (LDL) were also significantly increased as were those of cholesterol and triglycerides. In contrast, plasma levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL), albumin and total protein were reduced. At around three weeks of life, Plvap-deficient livers developed extensive multivesicular steatosis, steatohepatitis, and fibrosis. PLVAP is critically required for the formation of fenestrations in LSEC. Lack of fenestrations caused by PLVAP deficiency substantially impairs the passage of chylomicron remnants between liver sinusoids and hepatocytes, and finally leads to liver damage.
PMCID: PMC4277272  PMID: 25541982
9.  Layered Long Term Co-Culture of Hepatocytes and Endothelial Cells on a Transwell Membrane: Toward Engineering the Liver Sinusoid 
Biofabrication  2013;5(4):045008.
This paper presents a novel liver model that mimics the liver sinusoid where most liver activities occur. A key aspect of our current liver model is a layered co-culture of primary rat hepatocytes (PRHs) and primary rat liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) or bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) on a transwell membrane. When a layered co-culture was attempted with a thin matrigel layer placed between hepatocytes and endothelial cells to mimic the Space of Disse, the cells did not form completely separated monolayers. However, when hepatocytes and endothelial cells were cultured on the opposite sides of a transwell membrane, PRHs co-cultured with LSECs or BAECs maintained their viability and normal morphology for 39 and 57 days, respectively. We assessed the presence of hepatocyte-specific differentiation markers to verify that PRHs remained differentiated in the long-term co-culture and analyzed hepatocyte function by monitoring urea synthesis. We also noted that the expression of cytochrome P-450 remained similar in the co-cultured system from Day 13 to Day 48. Thus, our novel liver model system demonstrated that primary hepatocytes can be cultured for extended times and retain their hepatocyte-specific functions when layered with endothelial cells.
PMCID: PMC3935322  PMID: 24280542
Liver model; Liver co-culture; Primary Rat Hepatocytes; Liver sinusoidal endothelial cell; Transwell
10.  Hedgehog signaling regulates liver sinusoidal endothelial cell capillarisation 
Gut  2012;62(2):299-309.
Vascular remodeling during liver damage involves loss of healthy liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC) phenotype via capillarisation. Hedgehog (Hh) signaling regulates vascular development and increases during liver injury. Therefore, we examined its role in capillarisation.
Primary LSEC were cultured for 5 days to induce capillarisation. Pharmacologic, antibody-mediated, and genetic approaches were used to manipulate Hh signaling. Effects on mRNA and protein expression of Hh-regulated genes and capillarisation markers were evaluated by qRT-PCR and immunoblot. Changes in LSEC function were assessed by migration and tube forming assay, and gain/loss of fenestrae was examined by electron microscopy. Mice with acute or chronic liver injury were treated with Hh inhibitors; effects on capillarisation were assessed by immunohistochemistry.
Freshly isolated LSEC expressed Hh ligands, Hh receptors, and Hh ligand antagonist Hhip. Capillarisation was accompanied by repression of Hhip and increased expression of Hh-regulated genes. Treatment with Hh agonist further induced expression of Hh ligands and Hh-regulated genes, and up-regulated capillarisation-associated genes; whereas Hh signaling antagonist or Hh ligand neutralizing antibody each repressed expression of Hh target genes and capillarisation markers. LSEC isolated from SmoloxP/loxP transgenic mice that had been infected with adenovirus expressing Cre-recombinase to delete Smoothened showed over 75% knockdown of Smoothened. During culture, Smoothened-deficient LSEC had inhibited Hh signaling, less induction of capillarisation-associated genes, and retention of fenestrae. In mice with injured livers, inhibiting Hh signaling prevented capillarisation.
LSEC produce and respond to Hh ligands, and use Hh signaling to regulate complex phenotypic changes that occur during capillarisation.
PMCID: PMC3595101  PMID: 22362915
11.  TRAIL enhances paracetamol-induced liver sinusoidal endothelial cell death in a Bim- and Bid-dependent manner 
Cell Death & Disease  2012;3(12):e447-.
Paracetamol (acetaminophen, APAP) is a universally used analgesic and antipyretic agent. Considered safe at therapeutic doses, overdoses cause acute liver damage characterized by centrilobular hepatic necrosis. One of the major clinical problems of paracetamol-induced liver disease is the development of hemorrhagic alterations. Although hepatocytes represent the main target of the cytotoxic effect of paracetamol overdose, perturbations within the endothelium involving morphological changes of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) have also been described in paracetamol-induced liver disease. Recently, we have shown that paracetamol-induced liver damage is synergistically enhanced by the TRAIL signaling pathway. As LSECs are constantly exposed to activated immune cells expressing death ligands, including TRAIL, we investigated the effect of TRAIL on paracetamol-induced LSEC death. We here demonstrate for the first time that TRAIL strongly enhances paracetamol-mediated LSEC death with typical features of apoptosis. Inhibition of caspases using specific inhibitors resulted in a strong reduction of cell death. TRAIL appears to enhance paracetamol-induced LSEC death via the activation of the pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins Bid and Bim, which initiate the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Taken together this study shows that the liver endothelial layer, mainly LSECs, represent a direct target of the cytotoxic effect of paracetamol and that activation of TRAIL receptor synergistically enhances paracetamol-induced LSEC death via the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. TRAIL-mediated acceleration of paracetamol-induced cell death may thus contribute to the pathogenesis of paracetamol-induced liver damage.
PMCID: PMC3542621  PMID: 23254290
liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC); paracetamol; TRAIL; Bcl-2 homologs; apoptosis
12.  Unique Cell Type-Specific Junctional Complexes in Vascular Endothelium of Human and Rat Liver Sinusoids 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34206.
Liver sinusoidal endothelium is strategically positioned to control access of fluids, macromolecules and cells to the liver parenchyma and to serve clearance functions upstream of the hepatocytes. While clearance of macromolecular debris from the peripheral blood is performed by liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) using a delicate endocytic receptor system featuring stabilin-1 and -2, the mannose receptor and CD32b, vascular permeability and cell trafficking are controlled by transcellular pores, i.e. the fenestrae, and by intercellular junctional complexes. In contrast to blood vascular and lymphatic endothelial cells in other organs, the junctional complexes of LSECs have not yet been consistently characterized in molecular terms. In a comprehensive analysis, we here show that LSECs express the typical proteins found in endothelial adherens junctions (AJ), i.e. VE-cadherin as well as α-, β-, p120-catenin and plakoglobin. Tight junction (TJ) transmembrane proteins typical of endothelial cells, i.e. claudin-5 and occludin, were not expressed by rat LSECs while heterogenous immunreactivity for claudin-5 was detected in human LSECs. In contrast, junctional molecules preferentially associating with TJ such as JAM-A, B and C and zonula occludens proteins ZO-1 and ZO-2 were readily detected in LSECs. Remarkably, among the JAMs JAM-C was considerably over-expressed in LSECs as compared to lung microvascular endothelial cells. In conclusion, we show here that LSECs form a special kind of mixed-type intercellular junctions characterized by co-occurrence of endothelial AJ proteins, and of ZO-1 and -2, and JAMs. The distinct molecular architecture of the intercellular junctional complexes of LSECs corroborates previous ultrastructural findings and provides the molecular basis for further analyses of the endothelial barrier function of liver sinusoids under pathologic conditions ranging from hepatic inflammation to formation of liver metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3317944  PMID: 22509281
13.  Hepatic Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Regulates Recruitment of Rat Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cell Progenitor Cells 
Gastroenterology  2012;143(6):1555-1563.e2.
Background & Aims
After liver injury, bone marrow-derived liver sinusoidal endothelial cell progenitor cells (BM SPCs) repopulate the sinusoid as liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). After partial hepatectomy, BM SPCs provide hepatocyte growth factor, promote hepatocyte proliferation, and are necessary for normal liver regeneration. We examined how hepatic vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulates recruitment of BM SPC and their effects on liver injury.
Rats were given injections of dimethylnitrosamine to induce liver injury, which was assessed by histology and transaminase assays. Recruitment of SPCs was analyzed by examining BM SPC proliferation, mobilization to the circulation, engraftment in liver, and development of fenestration (differentiation).
Dimethylnitrosamine caused extensive denudation of LSEC at 24 hours, followed by centrilobular hemorrhagic necrosis at 48 hours. Proliferation of BM SPCs, number of SPCs in the bone marrow, and mobilization of BM SPCs to the circulation increased 2- to 4-fold by 24 hours after injection of dimethylnitrosamine; within 5 days, 40% of all LSEC came from engrafted BM SPC. Allogeneic resident SPCs, infused 24 hours after injection of dimethylnitrosamine, repopulated the sinusoid as LSEC and reduced liver injury. Expression of hepatic VEGF mRNA and protein increased 5-fold by 24 hours after dimethylnitrosamine injection. Knockdown of hepatic VEGF with antisense oligonucleotides completely prevented dimethylnitrosamine-induced proliferation of BM SPCs and their mobilization to the circulation, reduced their engraftment by 46%, completely prevented formation of fenestration after engraftment as LSEC, and exacerbated dimethylnitrosamine injury.
BM SPC recruitment is a repair response to dimethylnitrosamine liver injury in rats. Hepatic VEGF regulates recruitment of BM SPCs to liver and reduces this form of liver injury.
PMCID: PMC3505224  PMID: 22902870
endothelial progenitor cells; toxic hepatitis; animal model; liver damage
14.  Human Immune-reactivity against Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells from GalTα(1,3)GalT-Deficient Pigs 
Cell transplantation  2010;19(6):783-789.
Elimination of galactose-α(1,3)galactose (Gal) expression in pig organs has been previously shown to prevent hyperacute xenograft rejection. However, naturally present antibodies to non-Gal epitopes activate endothelial cells leading to acute humoral xenograft rejection. Still, it is unknown whether xenogeneic pig liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) from α(1,3)galactosyltransferase (GalT)-deficient pigs are damaged by antibody and complement-mediated mechanisms. The present study examined the xeno-antibody response of LSECs from (GalT)-deficient and wild pigs.
Isolated LSEC from wildtype and GalT pigs were expose to human and baboon sera, IgM and IgG binding was analyzed by flow cytometry. Complement activation (C3a and CH50) was quantified in vitro from serum-exposed LSEC cultures using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. Levels of complement activated cytotoxicity (CAC) were also determined by a fluorescent Live Dead Assay and by the quantification of LDH release.
IgM binding to GalT KO LSECs was significantly lower (80% human and 87% baboon) compare to wildtype pig LSEC. IgG binding was low all groups. Moreover, complement activation (C3a and CH50) levels released following exposure to human or baboon sera were importantly reduced (42% human and 52% baboon), CAC in GalT KO LSECs was reduced by 60% in human serum and by 72% in baboon serum when compared to wildtype LSECs and LDH release levels were reduced by 37% and 57% respectively.
LSECs from GalT KO pigs exhibit a significant protection to humoral-induced cell damage compare to LSECs from wild pigs when exposed to human serum. Though insufficient to inhibit xenogeneic reactivity completely, transgenic GalT KO expression on pig livers might contribute to a successful application of clinical xenotransplantation in combination with other protective strategies.
PMCID: PMC2957548  PMID: 20573304
Xenotransplantation; Liver endothelial cells; GalTα(1,3)GalT-Knockout pigs
15.  Human liver sinusoidal endothelial cells induce apoptosis in activated T cells: a role in tolerance induction 
Gut  2006;56(2):243-252.
The liver may have a role in peripheral tolerance, by serving as a site for trapping, apoptosis and phagocytosis of activated T cells. It is not known which hepatic cells are involved in these processes. It was hypothesised that liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) which are strategically placed for participation in the regulation of sinusoidal blood flow, and express markers involved in recognition, sequestration and apoptosis, may contribute to peripheral tolerance by inducing apoptosis of activated T cells.
By using immunoassays and western blot analysis, the fate of activated T cells when incubated with human LSEC isolated from normal healthy livers was investigated.
Evidence that activated (approximately 30%) but not non‐activated T cells undergo apoptosis on incubation with human LSEC in mixed cell cultures is provided. No difference in the results was observed when unstimulated and cytokine‐stimulated LSEC were used. T cell–LSEC contact is required for induction of apoptosis. Apoptosis induced by LSEC was associated with caspase 8 and 3 activity and strong expression of the proapoptotic molecule Bak. Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) produced constitutively by LSEC is partly responsible for the caspase‐induced apoptosis, as neutralising antibodies to TGFβ markedly attenuated apoptosis, up regulated the antiapoptotic molecule Bcl‐2 and partially blocked caspase‐3 activity.
These findings broaden the potential role of LSEC in immune tolerance and homeostasis of the immune system. This study may provide insight for exploring the mechanisms of immune tolerance by liver allografts, immune escape by some liver pathogens including hepatitis C and pathogenesis of liver diseases.
PMCID: PMC1856767  PMID: 16840505
16.  Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells represents an important blood clearance system in pigs 
Numerous studies in rats and a few other mammalian species, including man, have shown that the sinusoidal cells constitute an important part of liver function. In the pig, however, which is frequently used in studies on liver transplantation and liver failure models, our knowledge about the function of hepatic sinusoidal cells is scarce. We have explored the scavenger function of pig liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC), a cell type that in other mammals performs vital elimination of an array of waste macromolecules from the circulation.
125I-macromolecules known to be cleared in the rat via the scavenger and mannose receptors were rapidly removed from the pig circulation, 50% of the injected dose being removed within the first 2–5 min following injection. Fluorescently labeled microbeads (2 μm in diameter) used to probe phagocytosis accumulated in Kupffer cells only, whereas fluorescently labeled soluble macromolecular ligands for the mannose and scavenger receptors were sequestered only by LSEC. Desmin-positive stellate cells accumulated no probes. Isolation of liver cells using collagenase perfusion through the portal vein, followed by various centrifugation protocols to separate the different liver cell populations yielded 280 × 107 (range 50–890 × 107) sinusoidal cells per liver (weight of liver 237.1 g (sd 43.6)). Use of specific anti-Kupffer cell- and anti-desmin antibodies, combined with endocytosis of fluorescently labeled macromolecular soluble ligands indicated that the LSEC fraction contained 62 × 107 (sd 12 × 107) purified LSEC. Cultured LSEC avidly endocytosed ligands for the mannose and scavenger receptors.
We show here for the first time that pig LSEC, similar to what has been found earlier in rat LSEC, represent an effective scavenger system for removal of macromolecular waste products from the circulation.
PMCID: PMC149430  PMID: 12537582
17.  The influence of oxygen tension on the structure and function of isolated liver sinusoidal endothelial cells 
Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are specialized scavenger cells, with crucial roles in maintaining hepatic and systemic homeostasis. Under normal physiological conditions, the oxygen tension encountered in the hepatic sinusoids is in general considerably lower than the oxygen tension in the air; therefore, cultivation of freshly isolated LSECs under more physiologic conditions with regard to oxygen would expect to improve cell survival, structure and function. In this study LSECs were isolated from rats and cultured under either 5% (normoxic) or 20% (hyperoxic) oxygen tensions, and several morpho-functional features were compared.
Cultivation of LSECs under normoxia, as opposed to hyperoxia improved the survival of LSECs and scavenger receptor-mediated endocytic activity, reduced the production of the pro-inflammatory mediator, interleukin-6 and increased the production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10. On the other hand, fenestration, a characteristic feature of LSECs disappeared gradually at the same rate regardless of the oxygen tension. Expression of the cell-adhesion molecule, ICAM-1 at the cell surface was slightly more elevated in cells maintained at hyperoxia. Under normoxia, endogenous generation of hydrogen peroxide was drastically reduced whereas the production of nitric oxide was unaltered. Culture decline in high oxygen-treated cultures was abrogated by administration of catalase, indicating that the toxic effects observed in high oxygen environments is largely caused by endogenous production of hydrogen peroxide.
Viability, structure and many of the essential functional characteristics of isolated LSECs are clearly better preserved when the cultures are maintained under more physiologic oxygen levels. Endogenous production of hydrogen peroxide is to a large extent responsible for the toxic effects observed in high oxygen environments.
PMCID: PMC2408922  PMID: 18457588
18.  Role of Differentiation of Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells in Progression and Regression of Hepatic Fibrosis in Rats 
Gastroenterology  2011;142(4):918-927.e6.
Capillarization, characterized by loss of differentiation of liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC), precedes the onset of hepatic fibrosis. We investigated whether restoring differentiation to LSEC in liver affects their interactions with hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and thereby promotes quiescence of HSCs and regression of fibrosis.
Rat LSECs were cultured with inhibitors and/or agonists and examined by scanning electron microscopy for fenestrae in sieve plates. Cirrhosis was induced in rats using thioacetamide, followed by administration of BAY 60-2770, an activator of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC). Fibrosis was assessed by Sirius red staining; expression of α-smooth muscle actin was measured by immunoblot analysis.
Maintenance of LSEC differentiation requires vascular endothelial growth factor-A stimulation of nitric oxide (NO)-dependent signaling (via sGC and cGMP) and NO-independent signaling. In rats with thioacetamide-induced cirrhosis, BAY 60-2770 accelerated the complete reversal of capillarization (restored differentiation of LSEC) without directly affecting activation of HSC or fibrosis. Restoration of differentiation to LSEC led to quiescence of HSC and regression of fibrosis, in the absence of further exposure to BAY 60-2770. Activation of sGC with BAY 60-2770, prevented progression of cirrhosis, despite continued administration of thioacetamide.
Differentiation of LSEC has an important role in activation of HSC and the fibrotic process in rats.
PMCID: PMC3618963  PMID: 22178212
VEGF; rat model; chronic liver disease; fenestration
19.  Stromal-Derived Factor-1 and Its Receptor, CXCR4, Are Constitutively Expressed by Mouse Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells: Implications for the Regulation of Hematopoietic Cell Migration to the Liver During Extramedullary Hematopoiesis 
Stem Cells and Development  2011;21(12):2142-2151.
Stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1 is the main regulating factor for trafficking/homing of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to the bone marrow (BM). It is possible that this chemokine may also play a fundamental role in regulating the migration of HSC to several organs during extramedullary hematopoiesis. Because liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) constitute an extramedullary niche for HSC, it is possible that these cells represent one of the main cellular sources of SDF-1 at the liver. Here, we show that LSEC express SDF-1 at the mRNA and protein level. Biological assays showed that conditioned medium from LSEC (LSEC-CM) stimulated the migration of BM progenitor lineage-negative (BM/Lin−) cells. This effect was significantly reduced by AMD3100, indicating that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is involved in the stimulatory migrating effect induced by LSEC-CM. Early localization of HSC in SDF-1–expressing LSEC microenvironment together with increased levels of this chemokine in hepatic homogenates was found in an experimental model of liver extramedullary hematopoiesis. Flow cytometry studies showed that LSEC express the CXCR4 receptor. Functional assays showed that activation of this receptor by SDF-1 stimulated the migration of LSEC and increased the expression of PECAM-1. Our findings suggest that LSEC through the production of SDF-1 may constitute a fundamental niche for regulation of HSC migration to the liver. To our knowledge, this is the first report showing that LSEC not only express and secrete SDF-1, but also its receptor CXCR4.
PMCID: PMC3411357  PMID: 22121892
20.  Cultured mycelium Cordyceps sinensis protects liver sinusoidal endothelial cells in acute liver injured mice 
Molecular Biology Reports  2014;41(3):1815-1827.
Cultured mycelium Cordyceps sinensis (CMCS) was widely used for a variety of diseases including liver injury, the current study aims to investigate the protective effects of CMCS on liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) in acute injury liver and related action mechanisms. The mice were injected intraperitoneally with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and d-galactosamine (D-GalN). 39 male BABL/c mice were randomly divided into four groups: normal control, model control, CMCS treatment and 1,10-phenanthroline treatment groups. The Serum liver function parameters including alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels were assayed with the commercial kit. The inflammation and scaffold structure in liver were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and silver staining respectively. The LSECs and sub-endothelial basement membrane were observed with the scanning and transmission electronic microscope. The protein expressions of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) in liver were analyzed with Western blotting. Expression of von Willebrand factor (vWF) was investigated with immunofluorescence staining. The lipid peroxidation indicators including antisuperoxideanion (ASAFR), hydroxyl free radical (·OH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), malondialdehyde and glutathione S-transferase (GST) were determined with kits, and matrix metalloproteinase-2 and 9 (MMP-2/9) activities in liver were analyzed with gelatin zymography and in situ fluorescent zymography respectively. The model mice had much higher serum levels of ALT and AST than the normal mice. Compared to that in the normal control, more severe liver inflammation and hepatocyte apoptosis, worse hepatic lipid peroxidation demonstrated by the increased ASAFR, ·OH and MDA, but decreased SOD and GST, increased MMP-2/9 activities and VCAM-1, ICAM-1 and vWF expressions, which revealed obvious LSEC injury and scaffold structure broken, were shown in the model control. Compared with the model group, CMCS and 1,10-phenanthroline significantly improved serum ALT/AST, attenuated hepatic inflammation and improved peroxidative injury in liver, decreased MMP-2/9 activities in liver tissue, improved integration of scaffold structure, and decreased protein expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1. CMCS could protect LSECs from injury and maintain the microvasculature integration in acute injured liver of mice induced by LPS/D-GalN. Its action mechanism was associated with the down-regulation of MMP-2/9 activities and inhibition of peroxidation in injured liver.
PMCID: PMC3933741  PMID: 24442316
Mycelium Cordyceps sinensis; Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs); Liver injury; Hepatic sinusoid; MMP-2/9; Oxidative stress
21.  Divergent angiocrine signals from vascular niche balance liver regeneration and fibrosis 
Nature  2013;505(7481):97-102.
Chemical or traumatic damage to the liver is frequently associated with aberrant healing(fibrosis) that overrides liver regeneration1–5. The mechanism by which hepatic niche cells differentially modulate regeneration and fibrosis during liver repair remains to be defined6–8. Hepatic vascular niche predominantly represented by liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs), deploys paracrine trophogens, known as angiocrine factors, to stimulate regeneration9–15. Nevertheless, it remains unknown how pro-regenerative angiocrine signals from LSECs is subverted to promote fibrosis16,17. Here, by combining inducible endothelial cell (EC)-specific mouse gene deletion strategy and complementary models of acute and chronic liver injury, we revealed that divergent angiocrine signals from LSECs elicit regeneration after immediateinjury and provoke fibrosis post chronic insult. The pro-fibrotic transition of vascular niche results from differential expression of stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) receptors, CXCR7 and CXCR418–21in LSECs. After acute injury, CXCR7 upregulation in LSECs acts in conjunction with CXCR4 to induce transcription factor Id1, deploying pro-regenerative angiocrine factors and triggering regeneration. Inducible deletion of Cxcr7 in adult mouse LSECs (Cxcr7iΔEC/iΔEC) impaired liver regeneration by diminishing Id1-mediated production of angiocrine factors9–11. By contrast, after chronic injury inflicted by iterative hepatotoxin (carbon tetrachloride) injection and bile duct ligation, constitutive FGFR1 signaling in LSECs counterbalanced CXCR7-dependent pro-regenerative response and augmented CXCR4 expression. This predominance of CXCR4 over CXCR7 expression shifted angiocrine response of LSECs, stimulating proliferation of desmin+hepatic stellate-like cells22,23 and enforcing a pro-fibrotic vascular niche. EC-specific ablation of either Fgfr1 (Fgfr1iΔEC/iΔEC) or Cxcr4 (Cxcr4iΔEC/iΔEC) in mice restored pro-regenerative pathway and prevented FGFR1-mediated maladaptive subversion of angiocrine factors. Similarly, selective CXCR7 activation in LSECs abrogated fibrogenesis. Thus, we have demonstrated that in response to liver injury, differential recruitment of pro-regenerative CXCR7/Id1 versus pro-fibrotic FGFR1/CXCR4 angiocrine pathways in vascular niche balances regeneration and fibrosis. These results provide a therapeutic roadmap to achieve hepatic regeneration without provoking fibrosis1,2,4.
PMCID: PMC4142699  PMID: 24256728
22.  Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells Are a Site of Murine Cytomegalovirus Latency and Reactivation▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(17):8869-8884.
Latent cytomegalovirus (CMV) is frequently transmitted by organ transplantation, and its reactivation under conditions of immunosuppressive prophylaxis against graft rejection by host-versus-graft disease bears a risk of graft failure due to viral pathogenesis. CMV is the most common cause of infection following liver transplantation. Although hematopoietic cells of the myeloid lineage are a recognized source of latent CMV, the cellular sites of latency in the liver are not comprehensively typed. Here we have used the BALB/c mouse model of murine CMV infection to identify latently infected hepatic cell types. We performed sex-mismatched bone marrow transplantation with male donors and female recipients to generate latently infected sex chromosome chimeras, allowing us to distinguish between Y-chromosome (gene sry or tdy)-positive donor-derived hematopoietic descendants and Y-chromosome-negative cells of recipients' tissues. The viral genome was found to localize primarily to sry-negative CD11b− CD11c− CD31+ CD146+ cells lacking major histocompatibility complex class II antigen (MHC-II) but expressing murine L-SIGN. This cell surface phenotype is typical of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). Notably, sry-positive CD146+ cells were distinguished by the expression of MHC-II and did not harbor latent viral DNA. In this model, the frequency of latently infected cells was found to be 1 to 2 per 104 LSECs, with an average copy number of 9 (range, 4 to 17) viral genomes. Ex vivo-isolated, latently infected LSECs expressed the viral genes m123/ie1 and M122/ie3 but not M112-M113/e1, M55/gB, or M86/MCP. Importantly, in an LSEC transfer model, infectious virus reactivated from recipients' tissue explants with an incidence of one reactivation per 1,000 viral-genome-carrying LSECs. These findings identified LSECs as the main cellular site of murine CMV latency and reactivation in the liver.
PMCID: PMC2738169  PMID: 19535440
23.  Paracrine Signals From Liver Sinusoidal Endothelium Regulate Hepatitis C Virus Replication 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2013;59(2):375-384.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of global morbidity, causing chronic liver injury that can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The liver is a large and complex organ containing multiple cell types, including hepatocytes, sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC), Kupffer cells, and biliary epithelial cells. Hepatocytes are the major reservoir supporting HCV replication; however, the role of nonparenchymal cells in the viral lifecycle remains largely unexplored. LSEC secrete factors that promote HCV infection and transcript analysis identified bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) as a candidate endothelial-expressed proviral molecule. Recombinant BMP4 increased HCV replication and neutralization of BMP4 abrogated the proviral activity of LSEC-conditioned media. Importantly, BMP4 expression was negatively regulated by vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) by way of a VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) primed activation of p38 MAPK. Consistent with our in vitro observations, we demonstrate that in normal liver VEGFR-2 is activated and BMP4 expression is suppressed. In contrast, in chronic liver disease including HCV infection where there is marked endothelial cell proliferation, we observed reduced endothelial cell VEGFR-2 activation and a concomitant increase in BMP4 expression. Conclusion: These studies identify a role for LSEC and BMP4 in HCV infection and highlight BMP4 as a new therapeutic target for treating individuals with liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3992845  PMID: 23775568
24.  Age-related Changes in the Hepatic Microcirculation in Mice 
Experimental gerontology  2007;42(8):789-797.
Aging of the liver is associated with impaired metabolism of drugs, adverse drug interactions, and susceptibility to toxins. Since reduced hepatic blood flow is suspected to contribute this impairment, we examined age-related alterations in hepatic microcirculation.. Livers of C57Bl/6 mice were examined at 0.8 (pre-pubertal), 3 (young adult), 14 (middle-aged) and 27 (senescent) months of age using in vivo and electron microscopic methods. The results demonstrated a 14% reduction in the numbers of perfused sinusoids between 0.8 and 27 month mice associated with 35% reduction in sinusoidal blood flow. This was accompanied by an inflammatory response evidenced by a 5-fold increase in leukocyte adhesion in 27 month mice, up-regulated expression of ICAM-1, and increases in intrahepatic macrophages. Sinusoidal diameter decreased 6-10%. Liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC) dysfunction was seen as early as 14 months when there was a 3-fold increase in the numbers of swollen LSEC. The endocytotic capacity of LSEC also was found to be reduced in older animals. The sinusoidal endothelium in 27 month old mice exhibited pseudocapillarization. In conclusion, the results suggest that leukocyte accumulation in the sinusoids and narrowing of sinusoidal lumens due to pseudocapillarization and dysfunction of LSEC reduce sinusoidal blood flow in aged livers.
PMCID: PMC2003050  PMID: 17582718
aging; liver; microcirculation; sinusoids; sinusoidal endothelial cells; Kupffer cells; AGE; scavenger receptor
25.  Pathogenic Mouse Hepatitis Virus or Poly(I:C) Induce IL-33 in Hepatocytes in Murine Models of Hepatitis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74278.
The IL-33/ST2 axis is known to be involved in liver pathologies. Although, the IL-33 levels increased in sera of viral hepatitis patients in human, the cellular sources of IL-33 in viral hepatitis remained obscure. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the expression of IL-33 in murine fulminant hepatitis induced by a Toll like receptor (TLR3) viral mimetic, poly(I:C) or by pathogenic mouse hepatitis virus (L2-MHV3). The administration of poly(I:C) plus D-galactosamine (D-GalN) in mice led to acute liver injury associated with the induction of IL-33 expression in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) and vascular endothelial cells (VEC), while the administration of poly(I:C) alone led to hepatocyte specific IL-33 expression in addition to vascular IL-33 expression. The hepatocyte-specific IL-33 expression was down-regulated in NK-depleted poly(I:C) treated mice suggesting a partial regulation of IL-33 by NK cells. The CD1d KO (NKT deficient) mice showed hepatoprotection against poly(I:C)-induced hepatitis in association with increased number of IL-33 expressing hepatocytes in CD1d KO mice than WT controls. These results suggest that hepatocyte-specific IL-33 expression in poly(I:C) induced liver injury was partially dependent of NK cells and with limited role of NKT cells. In parallel, the L2-MHV3 infection in mice induced fulminant hepatitis associated with up-regulated IL-33 expression as well as pro-inflammatory cytokine microenvironment in liver. The LSEC and VEC expressed inducible expression of IL-33 following L2-MHV3 infection but the hepatocyte-specific IL-33 expression was only evident between 24 to 32h of post infection. In conclusion, the alarmin cytokine IL-33 was over-expressed during fulminant hepatitis in mice with LSEC, VEC and hepatocytes as potential sources of IL-33.
PMCID: PMC3772926  PMID: 24058536

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